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The Use of the Term ‘Pastoral’ in the 1983 Code of Canon Law with Reference to the 1917 Code

  • James Campbell (a1)


This article compares the use of the term ‘pastoral’ in the canon law of the Western Latin Church as it occurred in the 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law and then in the revised Code of 1983. This is because the revised Code increased the use of the term ‘pastoral’ and I wish to see if its meaning had changed and, if so, in what way. Hence, the article considers how ‘pastoral’ occurred in the 1917 Code and then in the equivalent canons in the 1983 Code. There follows comparison with the earlier canons, which were sources for the 1983 canons to see if the term has changed in meaning and, if so, what that change is. I am interested to track the use of ‘pastoral’ because it has become ubiquitous in the churches and in society and has different meanings and expectations associated with it. As far as canon law and ecclesiastical law generally are concerned, it is interesting to consider how the term is used and this article is a contribution to an understanding of ‘pastoral’ in the law of the Roman Catholic Church.



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1 In fact, the difference between the two usages is even more pronounced because I have not taken into account the weighting factor of the number of occurrences of ‘pastoral’ in relation to the number of canons in the respective codes.

2 Peters, E, The 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law (San Francisco, CA, 2001).

3 See Coriden, J, Green, J and Heitnschel, D, The Code of Canon Law: a text and commentary (London, 1985), p 5. It is noted that the 1936 Instruction for the Sacraments, Provida mater Ecclesia, condensed and supplemented the 1917 canons on marriage annulment procedures.

4 Hervada, J and Lombardia, P, ‘Introduction to canon law’ in Caparros, E et al. , Exegetical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law (5 vols, Montreal, 2004), pp 1119 at p 115.

5 See Augustine, P, A Commentary on the New Code of Canon Law, Vol 1–8 (London, 1920); Bouuaert, J Claeys and Simeon, G, Manuale Juris Canonici I–III (Ghent and Liège, 1934); Bouscaren, T Lincoln and Ellis, A, Canon Law: a text and commentary (Milwaukee, 1947).

6 John, XXIII, The Pope Speaks 5 (1958–1959), pp 398401, quoted in Alberigo, G, ‘The announcement of the Council: from the security of the fortress to the lure of the quest’, in Alberigo, G and Komonchak, J (eds), History of Vatican II (Leuven, 1995), vol I, pp 1–54 at p 1. These volumes are the most scholarly and comprehensive account of the preparation and conduct of the Council available in English.

7 Canon 2214 §2.

8 Furthermore, the 1917 Code contains words ancillary to ‘pastoral’, such as ‘charity’, ‘justice’, ‘solicitude’ and so on, but these are not found in large numbers nor do they comprise a section of a canon as found in Canon 2214 §2.

9 I have not considered the process of revision of the 1917 Code and the various drafts which resulted since I wish to limit myself to the revised and promulgated Code of 1983. For further details of draft texts and their importance in the revised Code's eventual formulation, see eg Peters, E, Incrementa in Progressu 1983 Codicis Iuris Canonici (Montreal, 2005).


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The Use of the Term ‘Pastoral’ in the 1983 Code of Canon Law with Reference to the 1917 Code

  • James Campbell (a1)


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